USA 06/23 – Sea World San Antonio
Next on the agenda in San Antonio was of course Sea World. The car park sting hit harder than even Six Flags would have here, at an eye-watering $32, for the privilege of some unshaded misery half a mile from the park entrance.
The entrance itself is rather striking, giving the place a unique character amongst the chain for that alone I guess. After many years of waiting for it, we finally bore witness here to a full-on national anthem park opening. Hats were removed and hearts were held. The day couldn’t start without it. More respect here than Cedar Point.
Day 3 – Sea World San Antonio
With tickets scanned we wandered forwards through the trees, immediately spotting the first and most important coaster. #1 Super Grover’s Box Car Derby was all manners of faff. They hadn’t opened the queue properly, leaving a number of guests stuck in various switchbacks trying to find a clear route to the station.
The most cumbersome of policies however, was that they refused to allow any loose items to be placed on the sufficiently empty far platform. The solution to this, which wasn’t presented to anyone until having already taken seats in the train, was to place them in an unsecure cubby hole storage area (pictured above) located entirely outside of the ride area. To access these at this point involved leaving the train back through the air gates and pushing past a crowd of people on a set of stairs that was already holding a full queue of disabled access guests. Once the items were stored, it was necessary to push back past said guests, up the stairs, back into the station and onto the train while the 5! staff members all stood gormlessly there waiting for that to happen.
Got the cred, now let us never speak of it again. A strong start.
The day immediately came to a halt again due to some undisclosed staggered openings. Access to areas beyond Sesame Street, which was already hell on earth after a mere 15 minutes, was blocked by staff members that didn’t understand the question ‘is this area opening later?’
Assuming it would be a round number, we patiently waited until the start of the next hour and sure enough the masses were unleashed once more. Not wanting to queue for it, and wanting to get the wetness out of the way, we made a beeline for Journey to Atlantis, which we saw had already been testing. It wasn’t ready, and there was no indication of when it would be.
Tidal Surge is just over the way then. An astonishingly massive S&S Screamin’ Swing. What’s not to love? The out of seat moments at the extremities, the face down view of nothing but water below, the forceful and fast wind from the sheer speed of the swings. Spoiler: best ride in the park.
Bailing on Journey for now, we continued anti-clockwise to the coaster that had the most potential for keeping us here. I’m swiftly running out of GCIs to play with and #2 Texas Stingray was the only of the ones remaining that had been given personal recommendation, by someone we met at SFGA, as being ‘better than Mystic Timbers’. And I love me some Mystic Timbers.
Well it sure as hell ain’t that for me. I’ve reached the conclusion a while ago that I like GCI best when they’re being un-GCI. If you like the Thunderheads of the world, with their record-breaking 22 banked corners then this is a GCI for you. It rides like one of those, with a few more poppy hills chucked in for good measure. If you like low to the ground, out of control feeling, fast-paced killing machines that tear themselves apart, and a shed, this one is a hard sell.
I didn’t dislike it by any means, it’s perfectly serviceable, but it didn’t get me excited at any point and didn’t make us want to stick around. I’d struggle to give you any key moments or highlights from the layout and thus it’s firmly in the middle of the pack.
Next on the journey was #3 Great White, the second Batman invert within a 15 mile radius. It was being run just about as badly, but only with one train as the other was in pieces. Other guests were suffering with an inconsistent ‘fanny pack policy’, having been instructed to keep it on, and then, once seated and restraints locked, take it off. Then the staff struggled to unlock said restraints while watching a man struggle with some contortionism of his own, I guess proving how difficult it would be for it to have fallen off, but rules are rules, sometimes, for some.
Oh, yeah, Batman again. S’alright. +1.
We were noticing a distinct lack of animals in this park by this point. There was a big building with sharks painted onto it next to the cred, which one might have expected to contain some fish, instead it held a sketchy carnival arcade being staffed by a teenager on their phone. I understand Sea World are leaning on the rides a bit more these days but assume the USP is still that you can do a bit of both. Otherwise Six Flags is kicking their ass.
Round the next corner was the construction site that is Infinity Falls. The next in a long line of rides coming ‘this summer’, though I’m really not sure what the definition of summer is any more, while getting scorched. The more annoying part about this one is that they’ve heavily advertised the ride on billboards throughout the city and, as we would later find out, the entire state. New ride! Infinity falls! Worlds steepest log flume or something (not bigging up the launch, which is the bit I was most interested about). Imagine seeing that, driving a couple of hundred miles and then finding a crane and some mud. Oh but don’t worry, you can
touch look at the boat.
Moving on though, at least #4 Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster lets you know what’s what when it comes to articles. None. Paid lockers outside. We acquired one and entered the queue which weirdly had assigned seating allocated at the base of the stairs, by a staff member who couldn’t see the station itself. This phenomenon will come up again on this trip.
I’m not sure if I like the Jet Ski trains over the usual quadbikey ones I was expecting. The back is the most solid, straight and unforgiving thing ever, but it was otherwise roomy and it didn’t matter anyway. After rolling into a shed and being told which of the many animals we would be saving (rerideability), an overly long countdown is initiated and then what everyone imagines a Mack launch to be like happens.
Truth be told there’s very little of any force going on with this ride, it’s a very family friendly affair, which is fine if that’s what they were going for I guess. Well no, that’s a weak excuse that Chessington use, It’s not like Intamin haven’t made much better ones of these that aren’t also family friendly too, so really it’s just a bit meh. The one thing that could have saved it was a bit of train interaction with Steel Eel, but they were running that so slow that it never happened.
So, #5 Steel Eel. I’ve always enjoyed the name. In my head this was a trend-bucking Morgan hyper, but from where I was sitting it’s basically the same – hills, corners, hills. The float and crunch effect was back in full force, and sadly too much so on this occasion. Sure, the up was fun, but the crashing back down into the seat was jarring to the point of what felt like nerve damage at the base of the neck. Thus, a one and done. Mamba remains the most refined.
Found some animals nearby – penguins. They had a bit of an exhibition at least. Then we realised it was probably best to get #6 Journey to Atlantis out of the way before the locker expired.
Took the walk over there, via Alligator Alley, which was far from an alley. The Mack Supersplash was playing a rather epic theme while no one rode it and it did an extra rotation on the turntables at the top, which I didn’t know was a thing, so that’s something. Splash. Park complete.
After crossing the park once more and emptying the locker, it was decided that we should at least look in on the shows, see how those were doing these days. Filled the time until then by reaffirming that Texas Stingray still wasn’t my bag and then took a seat in the dry area to see what they had to say for themselves.
There’s a lot of pre-recorded video packages about Sea Worlds conservation efforts that dictate the pace of the Orca show. When the action does begin it’s all heavily emphasised that everything we see is natural behaviour, or at least that which is useful for medical checkups. Not my bag either, but let us not forget how ridiculously expensive Sea World tickets are.
As such, the Belugas had a similar story too, though without video packages and any semblance of microphones through which you could understand what the presenters were saying.
It was time to leave. I didn’t vibe with the place at all, it represents incredibly poor value for money, though San Diego is probably still worse, no personal standout attractions, not a whole deal else to do, rather go Six Flags mate.
So we did.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Can’t forget about that #7 Boomerang now, can we? Redemption. +1.
Spiteliner was still spiting.
Kid spite still hadn’t been built.
Somehow talked myself into riding Dr. D again. The 7-wide cars intrigued me once more – if you get the middle seat you’re sitting dead centre of the track, which is very rare experience on any major coaster. It’ll be perfectly heartlined, a masterpiece of engineering, just like a No Limits POV I thought. I bagged the centre seat and it still sucked.
Superman got a courtesy nod, for fame reasons.
Wonder Woman was probably having that tyre looked at.
Had another glorious evening on the Iron Rattler.